Blake's 7 Avatars in Pro Books

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Blake's 7 Avatars in Pro Books is the professional author practice of modeling their original characters after characters or actors in Blake's 7.

There is a phenomena that is particularly well-documented among rabid B7 fans, and that is the appearance of B7 "avatars" in professionally published fiction. Sometimes the author admits that she loosely based a character on Avon or Vila or Blake; sometimes it is known that an author is a B7 fan and the readers themselves simply figure out who the author used as a model for particular characters in her novel(s): and sometimes a novel's characters simply evoke a "feel" of B7 to the many fans and there is speculation that these characters are avatars of Avon, et al. [1]
Some authors state up front they have done this:
I will sometimes have actors in mind to play the part. For example, the character of Eric in Ashes to Ashes was almost deliberately written for an actor named Paul Darrow, who was Avon in the British science fiction series, Blake's Seven." [2]

One Fan Compilation

One list of these for-profit books was Avatars - books with characters based on Blake's 7, Archived version located at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 website.

There, fans had this compilation of pro authors who they felt fan casted, either directly or implicitly, characters or actors from Blake's 7: Lois McMaster Bujold, David McIntee, P.N. Elrod, Gayle F, C.S.Friedman, Tanith Lee, Jean Lorrah, Barbara Paul, Louise Cooper, Patricia C. Wrede, Lillian Stewart Carl, Timothy Zahn, L.J. Smith, Jane Emerson, Gillian Taylor, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro [3], and Georgette Heyer.

This compilation was inspired, and possibly reprinted, from a third issue of IMHO*, a zine that may or may not have been printed. [4]

Fan Comments Regarding Specific Authors

Candace Robb

I read the two medieval mysteries by Candace Robb that Sue recommended, and enjoyed them. I can't decide whether I think Owen Archer is a Blake avatar or not. The physical description is certainly perfect, but still, he might just be the generic handsome Welshman. The scarred left eye does seem unlikely to be something that someone would dream up by coincidence, though. [5]

Lois McMaster Bujold

Lois McMaster Bujold has written an entire series of multiple-Hugo-winning science fiction novels around the character of Miles Vorkosigan. These are excellent novels and I would recommend them quite independantly of the Blake's 7 connection that a few of them have.

Brothers in Arms, 1989. From the extremely popular, multiple-Hugo-winning "Miles Vorkosigan" space opera series. A character named Duv Galeni, who bears a very strong resemblance to Avon, appears as Miles's superior officer, complete with passages reminiscent of scenes from "Rumours of Death" and "Blake." I think there's influence from fanfic as well; "nutmeg" as a term for eye color has got to be lifted from Susan Matthews. Broadly B7-ish themes include the ethics of cloning, revolutionaries who go too far, etc. The whole series is heartily recommended on general grounds, even aside from the special B7 interest. The Vor Game, 1990. Another Miles Vorkosigan book, with a dandy villainess who has Servalan's ruthlessness, her femininity, and her "Gambit" costume, but not much resemblance otherwise. She's a petite blonde, more like Anna Grant in physical appearance. Memory, 1996. Duv Galeni reappears, although he's mellowed considerably and is less Avon-like in this later book from the series. - Sarah T. [6]

L.J. Smith

I also read the L.J. Smith "Vampire Diaries" that Rebecca mentioned. For the first three books I couldn't decide whether the Blake-Avon resemblance of the vampire brothers was coincidental or not. Then I read the fourth book, which lifts such obvious B7 lines as "That makes it all worthwhile" and "Make me die, it's the only thing you can make me do" and "I don't need you... Anyone who follows me, I'll kill." Definitely too much for coincidence there! Rebecca, do you know the author? You mentioned, as I recall, that she's a big fan of B7. [7]
I knew L.J. Smith (Vampire Diaries author) for awhile and can assure you that she was most definitely a Blakes, and Blake 7, fan. She also wrote some of the best B/A stories I've read, under a pseud, of course. And no, I can't tell you what it is, since I'd promised to keep it to myself. You'll also find familiar quotes and fannish inside jokes in the subsequent series about the witches, which I liked even better than the vampire ones. I have the impression that she got so wrapped up in her commercial writing that she gafiated some years ago now. [8]

Jane Emerson

For B7 avatars other than Blake, I heartily recommend City of Diamond by Jane Emerson. This is an excellent space opera, well worth reading even for those with no interest in B7. There's an Avon avatar that I would never have known about if the author hadn't mentioned it (but once you know, it's obvious) and a Vila avatar that I blush to admit I didn't recognize the first time around. [9]


Lillian Stewart Carl

Lillian Stewart Carl

"Ashes to Ashes" -- 1990. A long romantic mystery in the Barbara Michaels vein. One of the characters is a handsome, charming lawyer with a big nose and dubious morals. He's not especially Avon-like in personality but could easily be played by Paul Darrow-- and since the author is definitely a B7 fan (she has an excellent story in the zine =Probability Square=), the resemblance is probably no accident. The sequel, =Dust to Dust=, has no obvious B7 avatars; but a character does at one point appear in a B7 tee shirt. [10]

Lillian Stewart Carl is known to have been a B7 fan. I always wondered whether or not she had ever written any of the characters into her books and not long ago, someone pointed out she had written an Avon avatar in her book Ashes to Ashes.

Ashes to Ashes is sort of a romance, sort of a ghost story, sort of a mystery. I enjoyed it quite a lot, but not for its B7 aspects. It is a good romantic mystery in its own right.

The Avon avatar isn't. An avatar for Avon, that is. He is most definitely an avatar of Paul Darrow. He looks like Paul, he talks like Paul (sans British accent), he dresses like Paul, and some of the things that happen to him actually happened to Paul (there is an incident with a cat near the end which really happened to Darrow, albeit under entirety different circumstances and with an entirely different outcome). This explains why one reader said she didn't think the character was very "Avonish." The character's name, by the way. is "Eric Adler."

The main character of the book is actually the heroine. She's a very interesting character and a strong one. The other main character is a young Scottish professor named Michael and 1 found him my favorite in the book. It's obvious from the description of him that he is not meant to be Vila and/or Michael Keating, although I can see a little bit of the Vila about him. I don't know if he is based on anybody or just made up out of whole cloth, but he is. IMHO. the most interesting character in the book. I highly recommend the book as a good read.

I have been unable to find this book on the local bookshelves, other than the used bookstores. It is usually shelved in the regular fiction areas. I've been told there was a sequel called Dust to Dust, but have been unable to confirm this. [11]

Gayle F

Gayle F

"Prince of Cups" -- A steamy romance from a well known Blake's 7 fan writer set in the political intrigues of historical Italy. Written for those who like a dark, Avonic hero, gypsies, tarot cards, and lots of sex.

A big, fat (471 pp.), juicy historical romance set in fifteenth-century Italy, with quite a lot of very steamy (heterosexual) sex scenes. There's something very familiar about dark, handsome, tormented Antonio di Fabiani-- especially when the heroine first sees him, dressed in black and silver. His resourceful servant Giacomo is played by someone we know, too. These two are the only really obvious B7 avatars-- and they are definitely intentional-- but there are also some other characters who resemble B7 folks at least a little: a wonderful sexy villainess and her creepy henchman, a feisty auburn-haired heroine with psychic powers of a sort, and a handsome young man who appears at first to be a romantic rival of the hero but turns out to be an ally. The action moves right along, with lots of interesting historical detail along the way. I love the scene in which the hero wakes up in bed with Lucrezia Borgia and realizes that he has just done something really, really stupid! [12]

Tanith Lee

Tanith Lee

Kill the Dead: This is the story of Parl Dro, the ghost slayer (look at Paul Darrow's autograph and you will see where the name comes from). His eventual sidekick, Myal Lemyal, bears a strong resemblence to Vila. Although I don't like all of Tanith Lee's books, I did enjoy this one. It has a stong plot and an extremely novel twist at the end. - Judith

The earliest and best- known example of this sort of thing. A fantasy featuring ghost- killer Parl Dro and minstrel and pickpocket Myal Lemyal, with plot elements suggestive of "Sarcophagus," one of the two B7 episodes written by Lee herself. Parl Dro is plainly an Avon clone, and his name is said to derive from Paul Darrow's scribbly signature. Furthermore, the book is dedicated to "Valentine," P.D.'s middle name. Fans generally see Myal as Vila, but in this case the resemblance is less obvious. - Sarah Thompson

Tanith Lee wrote the B7 episodes "Sarcophagus" and "Sand." [13]

Jean Lorrah

Jean Lorrah

"Survivors" -- A Star Trek: The Next Generation book. Darryl Adin is an Avon avatar, and a former lover of Tasha Yar.

"Metamorphosis" -- (review by Julia Jones)

This one is a sequel to ST:TNG Survivors, which I haven't read yet. I bought it because one of the secondary characters is Darryl Adin, original character from Survivors, and Avon avatar. If I hadn't known Adin is an avatar, I certainly wouldn't have spotted it from this book, but having been told that Adin's prototype is Avon I have no trouble believing it. Some of Adin's crew also seem suspiciously familiar. The book's probably not worth getting purely as an avatar-fest, but it's worthwhile as a Trek book. The basic plot device is Data learning the hard way about the old saying "Be careful what you wish for - you may get it".

I found it a satisfying read. It might not stay on my overcrowded bookshelf, but unlike far too many Trek books I've read, I don't consider this one a waste of money. It's further evidence for my recently formed theory that the quickest way to select a few good Trek books from the dross is to look for ones written by B7 fans.

"IDIC Epidemic -- Landing party Seven, who make a brief appearance, include a computer expert called Chevron (Avon's alias in Powerplay), and the rest of the group make a good match to the original Liberator crew.[14]

Patricia C. Wrede

I've also just acquired Pat Wrede's The Raven Ring, which the author herself says has a Vila avatar in it, but no other B7 characters. I haven't read it yet, though. [15]

Patricia C. Wrede

"The Raven Wing" -- A "medieval urban fantasy." Karvonen is a Vila avatar (not Avon).

Review by Julia Jones: Fantasy novel in an urban medieval setting. A young woman from a mountain warrior tribe goes to the city to retrieve her soldier mother's belongings after her mother dies in battle. She discovers that there's something fishy about her mother's death--and that someone else is eager to obtain her mother's kitbag. So eager, in fact, that she realises that she dares not leave the city until she's dealt with the threat, lest it follow her home to her family. The plot is actually fairly thin, but the tale is such enormous fun to read that you don't notice. This is a comedy of manners, with some wonderful characterisation and character interplay. It's also very well written in terms of being accessible for people who haven't read other books by Wrede set in this culture.

Eleret Salven makes several new friends in the city, including the handsome young nobleman Daner and the master thief Karvonen. A very amiable, garrulous thief who's a self-proclaimed coward with a taste for pretty female warriors. Vila fans should thoroughly enjoy this one. Recommended, although you may have to hunt for a copy. [16]

Gillian Taylor

"Darrow's Law" -- A long time ago, in a galaxy not very far away, Paul Darrow once said that he'd like to be in a Westerm. Now I don't make movies, but I do happen to write Western novels; and I've been a B7 fan since 1978.(my God, I feel old). "Darrow's Law" is by Gillian F Taylor (me) and was published by Robert Hale last year 1999. Robert Hale westerns are intended for libraries, so anyone interested should ask theirs to get it, but any good bookshop should be able to order a copy.

The story is about a sheriff (Darrow) and his deputy (Keating) who have a relationship not unlike that of a certain embezzler and thief. The western characters aren't identical to the SF ones, but certainly close enough to entertain fans. Their troubles really start when a rich, beautful woman arrives in town with the intention of gaining complete power...

If anyone wishes to check my style before buying or borrowing the book, I had a short Avon/Vila story published in the last Horizon fictionzine. The story is Long Odds.

I hope you and others enjoy reading Darrow's Law as much as I enjoyed writing it. Direct feedback from anyone who does read it would be welcome, so feel free to mail me about this if you wish.

[email redacted here]

'Darrow's Word' is a sequel and set a year later. The prime suspect to a murder is a charming, lovely and spoilt young woman who finds out that her wiles have no effect on Sheriff Darrow. Darrow and Deputy Keating must keep her locked up until the trial, but her brother is determined to rescue her. Darrow and Deputy Keating must fight blizzards, besotted lovers and gunmen to ensure justice, because Darrow, when he gives his word, always keeps it! [17]

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

There are two Westerns by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro that have a bit of a B7 connection -- specifically, a hero who, although not exactly an Avon avatar, was to some extent modelled on Paul Darrow. The author is supposed to have said so specifically, though I don't know when or where (perhaps at a con, as she also writes SFF). The books are =The Law in Charity= (Doubleday, 1989) and =Charity, Colorado= (M. Evans, 1993). They are very good in their own right, although in my opinion not particularly B7ish. - Sarah T. [18]

Georgette Heyer

This comment is by Gillian Taylor, a pro author who was on the list at Judith Proctor's site.

Georgette Heyer

"These Old Shades" 1926:

This is a dashing eighteenth century intrigue featuring the Duke of Avon. The really spooky thing is how similar this character is to the B7 version. They are not only physically similar, (apart from the Duke's regrettable tendency to wear pink and purple), they are similar mentally and morally. The Duke even remarks "My word, when I give it, is surety enough." The duke is always in control, knows more than anyone else and doesn't suffer fools. The similarities are almost too close to believe.

I've not read any of Heyer's other books, but I enjoyed this one. She clearly knows her setting well, and has a knack for deliniating character. I would recommend this to anyone. -- Avatar review by Gillian Taylor [19]

P.N. Elrod

Fun fact: the author in question is Pat Elrod. She is better known as P. N. Elrod, author of The Vampire Files series, and the early books of that series were written around the same time she was doing these. I’ve seen some comments to the effect that a number of characters therein resemble her versions of the B7 characters. (It’s been years since I read that series, so until I dig out the copies i have, I can’t personally comment.) As that series takes place in the 1930s, if that commentary is true, it adds more fuel to @drawing-blog-of-fun‘s Blake’s 1927 AU series. (It miiiiight also explain all of the “Avon is a vampire” stories I saw popping up in the old ‘zines.) [20]

References

  1. Ann Wortham in IMHO* #2
  2. Crescent Blues Author Interview: "Lillian Stewart Carl: Unearthly Undoings", Archived version, accessed September 19, 2016
  3. Oh, the irony.
  4. From IMHO* #2 (1995): "Join us next issue when there will be review? of more zines. books, merchandise, and anything else of interest to B7 fans. We're hoping to publish a list of known B7 "avatars" in the next issue, and welcome reviews of any such books (for example. Kill the Dead.) The next issue will go to press as soon as it is full."
  5. from Rallying Call #17
  6. Blake's 7 - Books with Avatars, Archived version
  7. from Rallying Call #17
  8. from Rallying Call #18
  9. from Rallying Call #17
  10. Blake's 7 - Books with Avatars, Archived version
  11. by Ann Wortham, from IMHO* #2 (1995)
  12. Blake's 7 - Books with Avatars, Archived version
  13. Blake's 7 - Books with Avatars, Archived version
  14. Blake's 7 - Books with Avatars, Archived version
  15. from Rallying Call #17
  16. Blake's 7 - Books with Avatars, Archived version
  17. Blake's 7 - Books with Avatars, Archived version
  18. Blake's 7 - Books with Avatars, Archived version
  19. Blake's 7 - Books with Avatars, Archived version
  20. bruinhilda.tumblr, February 26, 2017